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Potential Legal Issues Healthcare Professionals May Face When Certifying Patients for Medical Marijuana

Posted on in Medical License Defense

Illinois Medical Marijuana Certification AttorneyIn 2013, the state of Illinois passed the Compassionate Use Act, which allowed the use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from certain medical conditions who received certification from their physician. In 2019, the state amended the law to also include certification by advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) and other healthcare professionals other than physicians. The law has specific guidelines that healthcare professionals must abide by when issuing medical marijuana recommendations to patients and failure to follow these rules could result in disciplinary action by the Illinois Medical Board and/or other consequences.

Certifying Patients

Healthcare professionals who certify patients for medical marijuana use already walk a fine line with federal marijuana laws. It is illegal for a doctor or any other medical professional to prescribe cannabis in any form to a patient under federal law because of its classification as a Schedule 1 drug and, under the current federal law, prescribing marijuana for a patient could be deemed aiding and abetting the patient in obtaining the drug.

This is why healthcare professionals make recommendations to patients and not prescribe the drug. And while the legal risk of certifying patients is fairly low (In 2013, the DOJ stated that their attorneys would no longer pursue legal action against healthcare professionals for medical marijuana certifications), it is still important for healthcare professionals who do certify to be aware that federal laws have not caught up to state laws.

The law in Illinois is specific in terms of who can certify a patient:

  • The healthcare professional must have a “bona-fide” doctor/patient relationship. That relationship must be ongoing and not just for the purpose of consulting and obtaining the certification.

  • The patient must have at least one of the debilitating medical conditions listed in the Compassionate Use Act and the healthcare professional must be the one who has been and will continue to be the professional who will treat the patient for that condition. The healthcare professional must also certify that the patient is and will continue to be in their care.  

  • The healthcare professional must conduct an in-person assessment of the patient’s medical history and their current condition. This is to include a physical examination. All this must be done prior to certification.

In order to avoid any legal issues with the state, healthcare professionals who do issue medical marijuana certifications should consider the following guidelines:

  • Make sure to document all medications, marijuana, and any other substances used by the patient in their medical records.

  • Never offer a patient certification of cannabis without conducting the proper assessments, diagnosis, and any other indicators that the patient would qualify under Illinois law.

  • Never issue a certification to any patient as a favor to family, friends, colleagues, etc. To do so could put your medical license in jeopardy.

  • Make sure to stay abreast of any changes the state may make to the law.

Contact an Illinois Medical License Defense Attorney

If you have any questions or concerns regarding medical marijuana certifications, or you have run into an issue with the state’s licensing board, contact an experienced Illinois medical marijuana certification attorney. Call The Law Offices of Joseph J. Bogdan, LLC at 630-310-1267 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

 

Sources:

https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/physicians-medical-marijuana-and-law/2014-09

https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/physician-information

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